Patients with cancer are at risk for fungal infection because of the indwelling medical devices, surgery, immune-suppressing drugs, or antibacterial drugs needed to treat the cancer-associated infections. One such infection is caused by the fungal organism Candida. The species that commonly infects cancer patients is Candida glabrata, which is becoming resistant to many antifungal drugs.

An investigation into what is causing this emerging drug resistance identified several risk factors: previous exposure to an antifungal drug (cross-resistance), having a cancer of the blood, use of a breathing machine (ventilator), having too few monocytes (a type of white blood cell), and needing intravenous feeding. Some of these risk factors cannot be avoided, but one that can is overuse use of antifungal drugs (such as prescribing a drug not laboratory-proven to be needed). Thus, one key to preventing fungal infections in cancer patients is careful and appropriate use of antifungal drugs.

Study: Drug-Resistant Candida glabrata Infection in Cancer Patients, Dimitrios Farmakiotis, Jeffrey J. Tarrand, and Dimitrios P. Kontoyiannis, Emerging Infectious Diseases, DOI: 10.3201/eid2011.140685, published 15 October 2014.